Atheists Are to Marvel At

December 1, 2014

The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.     

Happy Cyber Monday, when I assume one is much less likely to be killed than on Black Friday. 

Our boss Ron Lindsay's new book, The Necessity of Secularism, is officially released today! Go get it. Meanwhile, Ron's got a new essay up at Huffington Post on the problem with prophets:

If you are a faithful Jew, Christian, Muslim, or Mormon, then you must accept that God does not convey any really important information except through the medium of a few prophets. In other words, there is a rigidly hierarchical, cognitive class system inherent in revealed religion. There are a few people who have been in direct contact with God and are in the know about his plans and instructions. These are the people who tell us what to believe and do. Then there are the billions of the rest of us, who just have to follow along. 

Last week Point of Inquiry welcomed Rachel Godsil of the Perception Institute, who talks to host Lindsay Beyerstein about the problem of "racial anxiety," and how even good intentions can manifest in some unenlightened behavior.

You really must watch this short film by Erik Wernquist which imagines human expansion across the Solar System, with the words of Carl Sagan.

CBC's Marketplace goes after the dangers of homeopathy

Engadget reports on the very big technological ambitions of Deepak Chopra, whose got a new app and what he hopes will be "the largest social network in the world." Says Joseph Volpe, "Chopra's not too concerned about the awkward mix of commercialism with spirituality." You don't say. 

CFI chair Edward Tabash reviews Sam Harris's Waking Up for Free Inquiry, and finds Harris's arguments wanting:

If Harris and I both sat down for a lengthy meditation session, there is no question that I would fidget before he would. However, the ability to sit still for long periods of time does not, in and of itself, empirically validate any claim about what ultimate experiences mediation can yield. 

Rupert Abbott of Amnesty International in the Jakarta Globe: "The blasphemy laws [of Indonesia] clearly contravene Indonesia’s international obligations to uphold the rights to freedom of speech and freedom of religion or belief."

Pakistan, meanwhile, sentences actress Veena Malik and her husband, media mogul Asad Bashir Khan to 26 years in prison for blasphemy for a show that featured people dancing to a song about the wedding of Muhammed's daughter

CFI-Los Angeles's Jim Underdown writes about the work of the Independent Investigations Group visit with the International Academy of Consciousness (psychic projection and whatnot), and declares them misguided but "not evil." 

Emily Bazelon considers whether threats posted to Facebook constitute free speech, an issue soon to be taken on by the Supreme Court.  

Pope Fluffy says not to equate Islam with violence, and asks Muslim leaders to help make that point. 

More same-sex marriage bans get nixed by courts

Not surprising, but notable: 1/3 of national flags have religious symbols on them. 

Brynn Tannehill argues for inclusion of transgender rights as part of the humanist activist's portfolio:

When we are attacked, whatever part of the attacker’s mind that tells them to stop before they kill a person is countered by the barrage of messages that transgender women are sexual predators, pedophiles, perverts, deviants, and abominations. This is why the transgender community needs the voices and values of Humanists; we are not seen as human, and it is literally killing us.

Joe Nickell shakes his head at Van Gogh murder conspiracy theories

Vampires in a time of cholera. 

More vaccination health workers are killed by militants in Pakistan.

Nativity or tyrannosaurus battle? YOU DECIDE. 

Here's why some of us should stay in our basements. Unless you like skeletons.

Checkmate, atheists! From a letter to the editor in the South Jersey Times:

Atheists are to marvel at. They don't understand how their fingernails grow overnight, but they are secure in their knowledge of how the universe was formed, how it works and the origins of humanity. Wow! And all of it by chance! 

Quote of the Day

Keith Law, the ESPN guy who was suspended from Twitter after defending science and evolution, in his return tweet:

Eppur si muove
 
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Image by Shutterstock 

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Comments:

#1 Randy on Thursday December 04, 2014 at 11:27am

“messages that transgender women are sexual predators, pedophiles, perverts, deviants, and abominations”

While I do agree that the short-term goal that transgender people need to be integrated into media and society so that average people are accustomed to interacting with transpeople as human, I reject the implicit idea that people deemed “predators, pedophiles, perverts, deviants, and abominations” deserve death.  This is not merely a case of mis-identification.  The whole concept is wrong.

History (and the news) show that anybody can be labeled with these things without any evidence at all, and even without claims of harm to others, and that this puts their lives at risk.

And the idea that some of us can authorize ourselves to take someone else’s life against their will, even correctly identified, because they “deserve it” needs to be done away with.

This is something that comes from the left, by the way, and the left needs to fix it.

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